Computer Vision Syndrome

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Ocular Allergies

Are You Legally Blind?  
05/16/2012

Are You Legally Blind?

“Legally blind” is a term that is often misunderstood by the public. People tend to take their own idea of what constitutes being legally blind and substitute that for the real definition. The real definition is quite precise and came about for a specific reason. Learn about all this as you read the answers to the questions below.

What Does It Take To Qualify As Legally Blind?

First to clarify what the definition of “legally blind” is. A person is considered to be legally blind when their best corrected visual acuity is 20/200 or even worse than that in the eye that sees the best. A person is also considered to be legally blind if they possess a visual field that measures only 20 degrees. This is the base definition but here is more information to help you to understand exactly what “legally blind” means.

The first part of the definition talks about a visual acuity of 20/200. A person with 20/20 vision can see the clear details of an object when they are standing 200 feet away from this object. A person with 20/200 vision possesses the ability to only see the amount of detail as the first person if they are standing no more than 20 feet away from the object in question. When a person is legally blind they have difficulty clearly perceiving objects that are far away as well as objects that are close up. This level of impairment of sight makes many everyday tasks difficult.

The second part of the definition talks about a person with a visual field that measures only 20 degrees. An individual with normal vision has a visual field that measures 180 degrees, giving that person the ability to see in front of them and to either side. With a visual field of 20 degrees, an individual has tunnel vision. They cannot see a person standing right next to them or an object sitting right in front of them.This visual impairment also leads to mobility problems.

What Are The Misconceptions About The Definition Of Legally Blind?

The term “legally blind” does not necessarily mean that an individual is completely blind. Their eyesight may just be impaired in the aforementioned ways so that their sight is limited enough to qualify for the legally blind label. This is the first misconception.

The second misconception is about individuals who have poor eyesight without glasses or contact lenses. A person is not legally blind if they remove their contact lenses or glasses and then experience the designated level of visual impairment. Legally blind is a designation that is only given after everything possible has been done to improve vision, for example the use of glasses and contacts. The part of the definition that uses the phrase "best corrected" indicates that vision is only assessed after vision has been corrected as much as it can be.

Why Is There Such A Thing As Legally Blind?

The term “legally blind” exists to help individuals who require government assistance because of their eyesight. These criteria help to decide when individuals merit government assistance as there has to be firm criteria for those who receive this assistance and those who does not. It is also helpful for the department of motor vehicles to be able to identify these individuals who are not able to safely operate motor vehicles.

The term “legally blind” can be confusing for people, however now you know the truth of it. Legally blind does not necessarily mean completely blind and criteria for individuals who are legally blind only applies after everything possible has been done to correct their sight . Are you legally blind? You now know enough to answer that question yourself.